My First Game double header: Burnley '75, Bournemouth '90
Bobble hats over eyes and getting on the telly: two more Blades share their first memories of falling for United
Burnley (h), September 1975
The first game I can really remember was when I was five years old. We were playing at home to Burnley in September 1975 and we won 2-1. Coincidentally, Burnley were also the opponents for my first ever away game, a few years later in 1978 when we were royally smashed 4-1 at Turf Moor.
I have a mixed bag of some hazy and some vivid memories from my first Blades home game. The most prominent memory seems to be, probably due to sheer over-excitement, of being sick on the way to the match right over the barrier outside the old Polytechnic building on Arundel Gate.
I’d been to many games before this one as living in Heeley, I’d be taken into the John Street stand by my dad on our way back from the Sheaf Market. They used to open the gates at half-time in those days, so we'd just wander in and watch the second half.
I don’t really recall much from these games as I was only 2 or 3 years old, other than once being told off by a steward for slamming down a wooden seat in the corner of John Street and causing a domino style chain reaction that echoed around the ground (must have been a low attendance that day). That was the early 70’s, probably the 72/73 season as after that the family upped sticks and moved into enemy territory as my dad was the live-onsite caretaker of Longley school.
Other memories of that day include the joy of my dad buying me a programme and a huge bag of ready salted (“plain”) crisps under the stand, that I proceeded to scoff resulting in further projectile vomiting on the way home. We were in the lower tier of the Bramall Lane stand (which was concrete terracing at the time of course) and I can recall the worried look on dad’s face when he realised, as the teams ran out onto the pitch, that this enclosure was now the away end (last time he’d been it was mixed).
I don’t remember much of the football to be fair, but I do recall Bobby Campbell pulling down my Blades bobble hat over my eyes when he came to fetch the ball for a corner kick. It could have been another player but he was a favourite of mine when I was small so my memory could be playing tricks. I was standing against the wall, peering through the railings when the ball went out of play and stopped right in front of me. Over came Bobby (or whoever it really was), he picked up the ball then pulled my hat right down over my face. The whole crowd behind me cheered and I clearly recall the mixed emotion of being totally embarrassed yet ultimately proud. Unfortunately that’s all I remember of the game, I don’t know who scored and whether it was a decent game.
I do remember my next game being against Fulham with a similar scoreline, and despite the shock of finding out Bramall Lane was now the away end, we were back in that enclosure for this one. I’ve had some amazing memories over the preceding years, some good, some frustrating, but this game will always stick at the forefront of my mind. It’s the day I officially became hooked on the mighty red and white wizards.
Bournemouth (h), April 1990
Last home game of the promotion season. I was 6, went with older brother and my dad, travelling up from the Midlands where we lived. I’d been to more away games near where we lived (Shrewsbury, West Brom, Wolves, Birmingham etc) than trips to BDTBL and this was my first memory of the Kop. We were standing right at the front in the sunshine.
One of the reasons I remember that game is you can see me and my brother on the ‘United’ BBC documentary when Simon Tracey throws the ball out to the left back and the camera pans across the Kop. I must have watched that clips a thousand times over the years!
I don’t remember loads about the game, other than feeling like we scored every time we attacked. I guess I didn’t have the context of years following the Blades and being so close to the ‘Promised Land’ - I can’t imagine how nervous I would be if that game happened now given how tight things were at the top. I spent the days leading up to the Ipswich game last season convinced we were somehow going to mess it up!